FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2017
Contact: Representative Natalie Higgins, 978-602-3772
House Passes Legislation to Protect Women at Risk of Losing Birth Control Coverage
Underscores economic impact of contraception coverage
BOSTON - Representative Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House to pass legislation to ensure that Massachusetts women have access to no-copay contraception. This action follows the Trump Administration’s decision to weaken critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act related to women’s health and preventive care.
This compromise bill requires insurers to cover contraceptives and contraceptive services in Massachusetts, including education, counseling and follow-up treatment, without any out-of-pocket cost to the patient. In an effort to contain healthcare costs, the bill only requires insurers to cover one version of a drug or device free of charge, if a therapeutic equivalent (generic drug) is available, unless otherwise directed by a patient’s doctor.
“All women deserve the right to affordable, reliable and safe contraceptive care,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This is not only a health issue, but one of equity as well. Being able to make decisions about contraception is one of the most influential factors in whether women complete their education and achieve their career goals. I’m proud that Massachusetts did the right thing in the face of shameful decisions on the federal level.”
“Amid an environment of fear and uncertainty out of Washington, I’m proud that Massachusetts is standing up for the right to access to no-copay contraception,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia A. Haddad (D-Somerset), co-sponsor of the bill. “Now, more than ever, we need to stand up to safeguard choices and opportunity for women.”
“Women should have access to contraception,” said Chairman John W. Scibak (D-South Hadley), co-sponsor of the bill. “But, this is not just a women’s issue. It’s a men’s issue, a family issue, and a societal issue. I’m proud that Massachusetts is doing the right thing and guaranteeing that women can exercise their choices and have free access to oral contraceptives.”
“The number one issue I hear about from constituents is access to reproductive healthcare,” said Representative Higgins. I believe this is one of the most important issues we’ll take on this session. We cannot afford to roll back these protections, regardless of what is going on at the federal level.”
In its October 2017 report, the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) notes that “increasing the dispensing period of contraceptives to a year facilitates access and may lead to a more consistent contraceptive use.” Understanding that consistency is critical to effective use of contraceptives, this bill allows patients to pick up a twelve-month supply of medicine subsequent to an initial three-month prescription.
The legislation also mandates no-copay coverage for emergency contraception with a prescription.
Access to preventive healthcare and affordable contraception continues to have a significant impact on the economic stability of women. Contraceptives make up about 30 to 44 percent of out-of-pocket healthcare spending for women. Since 1960, it is estimated that about one-third of the wage gains made by women are the result of access to birth control.